South Africa and its neighbours Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia are back on the UK “red list”. It comes as a newly-discovered variant of the Covid-19 virus, Variant B.1.1.529 is declared a Variant under Investigation by the UK Health Security Agency.
A notice appears on the UK government website.
The UK government calls it a “precautionary” measure to ward off “a new variant under investigation”. The notice says no cases have yet been identified in the UK.
UK visitors already in South Africa will also be affected on their return to the UK by the need to quarantine on return.
From midday today, Friday November 26, South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia will be added to the UK’s travel red list.
- Direct flights, both commercial and private, from the six countries into the UK will be banned from midday Friday November 26 until hotel quarantine is up and running at 04h00, Sunday November 28. This excludes cargo and freight without passengers.
- From midday on Friday November 26, non-UK and Irish residents who have been in these countries in the previous 10 days will be refused entry into England (and presumably into the rest of the UK – Ed). This does not apply to those who have stayed airside and only transited through any of these countries while changing flights.
- Passengers arriving in the UK after 04h00 Sunday, November 28, will be required to book and pay for a government approved hotel quarantine facility for 10 days. Bookings for these hotels will open at midday today, Friday November 26.
- UK and Ireland residents arriving in the UK between midday Friday November 26 and 04h00 Sunday November 28 from these six countries, (or who have been in those countries in the 10 days prior to departure to the UK), must isolate at home for 10 days and take NHS PCR tests on day 2 and day 8, even if they already have a lateral flow test booking. But, UK and Irish residents arriving from 04h00 on Sunday November 28 will have to isolate in a government-approved facility for 10 days. During their stay, they will be required to take a coronavirus test on day 2 and day 8.
UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We’re taking this early precautionary action now to protect the progress made across the country, and will continue to keep a close eye on the situation as we continue into the European winter.”